A Visionary Sees the Future
If you said the smart microcar, you would be right on target.
Let’s travel back to 1972, when a project leader for Mercedes-Benz named Johann Tomforde conceptualized a vehicle to complete his vision of an ultimate urban transporter. This car would fulfill the role of an inner city commuting vehicle which was only a few feet long, and had room for two adults.
Eighteen years later, in 1990, two design concept vehicles went into development. The first model was the “Study A” prototype. This resulted in production of the Mercedes A Class.
The second model culminated in the production of the Mercedes City Car, which was also known as the MCC (Micro Compact Car). This was an electric-powered vehicle which was only 2.5 meters in length.
In 1991, Mercedes Benz turned over the project to its ADS (Advanced Design Studio.) This facility was headquartered in Irvine, California. Here, a group of engineers and designers began working on the engineering and design.
This prototype was give the moniker – smart MCC (Micro Compact Car). Designers at the ADS simply called it “MCC 01.” Metalcrafters built the first physical rendition in 1992.
Moving forward a few years, Nicholas Hayek, innovator and creator of Swatch contacted Mercedes about their mission. He wanted to apply his manufacturing techniques, which involved modular manufacturing processes used in Swatches to manufacturing cars.
Hayek had already led a revolutionary movement in the watch industry by reinventing watches into fun and inexpensive fashion statements. He wanted to pursue doing the same things with cars and approached Mercedes.
Hayek differed from many in the smart project – he was a visionary also. His concept was to create an economical and fun city car that would be powered by either a hybrid or electric system. Mercedes executives, although concerned with the urban environment for automobiles, didn’t view the market the same way.
Knowing the story of the smart car is fun to get to know. It allows for greater familiarity with the interesting story and development of smart. It is not surprising to find the car was surrounded by intrigue, broken promises and deception, since its inception.
Further adding to the intriguing story is billions of dollars in losses for share-holders supporting smart.
So the real story of smart began a decade and one-half ago. Two highly recognized companies known for innovation and breaking new ground called Swatch and Mercedes Benz decided to build a very small car for Europe.
All of this and more – long before those of us the US even conceived of the need to develop, manufacture or drive such a car … Read the whole story
In 1993 Swatch watch inventor, Nicolas Hayek, took his ideas for an “ultra-urban” car to Mercedes-Benz and a joint venture is born. Although his participation in the smart program was comparatively brief, that fundamental approach has been retained. Currently, a smart fortwo is the fourth most fuel efficient car. The newest generation smart will be available in 2014.
The smart car fortwo’s next-generation may have a longer body and powertrain alternatives including a mild hybrid and a new smart car fortwo all-electric car.
About 1994 Nicholas Hayek and his Swiss Corporation formed Micro Compact Car (MCC) AG, with a 51/49 ownership split. In 1994 MCC France was established for the purposes of locating a plant, smartville, in Hambach, France, which had its production launch in 1997, the same year that the production version of the three-cylinder smart city coupe was revealed to the public at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Earlier that year, Hayek had accepted a buyout. In 1998 Daimler-Benz had control over the business that was renamed Micro Compact Car smart GmbH. In 2002, the company was renamed again, smart GmbH.
smart, GmbH the manufacturer of the smart is a division Daimler. Its produced in Hambach, France. Since the first smart rolled off the production line it’s always been marketed as the “smart” in all lower-case.
Mr. Hayek, unlike many involved in the smart project was a visionary, his concept was to create an economical and fun city car that would be powered by either a hybrid or electric system. Sadly, Mercedes executives although concerned with the urban environment for automobiles didn’t see things
The history of the smart car is not only helpful allowing you to get better acquainted with smart cars, but many of you maybe surprised to find the car was surround by intrigue, broken promises and deception. Not to mention billions of dollars in losses for share-holders.